Absolute Black heard how much Tom sucks up hills, so they sent him an oval ring to help him out.
It’s a basic rule of the internet. Post a picture of an oval chainring and you will get a couple of the following comments, for certain. “Who remembers Biopace?” and “<insert roadie name here> used one at the Tour de France”. I’m pretty sure that Absolute Black (and everyone else who’s been bring the oval back) are sick of hearing about the mess that was Shimano Biopace. A quick history lesson – Shimano thought that oval rings would be great for evening out the imperfect power delivered by by legs by varying the mechanical advantage. Sadly for chainring progress, they made a right hash of it, making life much more difficult for anyone unfortunate enough to run one.
Wind forward over 20 years and oval rings are back in the game, though sadly still dogged by the hangover of years of misplaced ovalising. Absolute Black are one of the brands keen to get us all climbing smoother on mountain bikes and claim “The Best Oval Chainrings on the Market”. They are available in 4 sizes, 28T, 32T, 34T and 36T and fitments for regular cranks (104BCD except for the 28T which uses the 64/granny ring mounts), SRAM direct mount and RaceFace Cinch. There’s also a range of colours including black, blue and green. At the top of the ring (above) you can just see a small marker showing where the cranks sit for faultless fitting.
Our 34T ring sat on top of a regular 36T ring, and with a (totally wrecked) 32T ring on top. At it’s biggest the oval ring acts like a 36T ring, but at the “dead spot” in your pedaling it makes life easier behaving like a 32T tooth. Fitting was super-easy, with a perfect snug fit on my Zee cranks. The chain sits nicely on the wide/narrow teeth. A quick ride round the village reveals a slightly odd sensation – not bad, just different. Time to get out on the trails and see how ovals help.
34T – 44g – RRP – Varies